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Tips for Employers to Keep Pre-Employment Background Checks Legal

Updated: Apr 30

Employers, big and small, generally conduct some sort of background check or vetting program prior to hiring a new employee. Here are a few tips to consider when hiring and vetting new employees:

- Use a third party to conduct any social media checks for legal reasons.

- Advance permission in writing must be obtained from the candidate prior to screening.

- Screen all candidates for all jobs to avoid issues with discrimination.

- A background check should be one of the last pieces in the hiring process as part of a conditional offer as to not exclude anyone from consideration.

- Be sure to review local laws regarding asking about criminal convictions and ban the box laws. Certain states also have rules about how many years a criminal check can go back. Seven years is a common limit in many states.

- Consider whether or not a credit check would be pertinent to the candidate's position. Usually credit checks are typically used for candidates working with the company's finances which require a certain level of trust within the organization. FCRA laws must be followed when credit reports are involved.


Victoria Balzarini is an investigation agency principal in the Greater Seattle, WA area. She offers pre-employment background investigative services to employers. Contact her at victoria@blueeaglesecuritysolutions.com.